Addis Abeba – The Amhara regional state government has said efforts are being made to resolve long standing identity and boundary disputes with neighboring Tigray region through a referendum in a bid to establish lasting peace. In a presser on Friday, Gizachew Muluneh, communications bureau head of the region said activities are underway to settle through popular vote the issues that have been the source of heightened disputes between the two regions over the past 30 years.
Western and Southern parts of Tigray over which the Amhara region have had a long lasting claim came under the control of the Amhara forces within weeks of the outbreak of the Tigray war in November 2020, and remained under their occupation even after the war was ended through a negotiated settlement two years later.
According to Gizachew, the attempt to resolve the outstanding identity and border issues through a referendum is part of the regional government’s effort to pacify the region that has not yet relieved the distress caused by the war. He added that illegal activities prohibiting free movement, abductions, killings, vandalism and robbery continue to cause loss of lives and destruction of properties in some parts of the region.
He called for a unified and matured peaceful struggle with a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, and under the umbrella of Ethiopia to answer the long lasting questions and interests of the Amhara people which includes constitutional amendments and identity issues.
Gizachew did not give further details about the planned referendum. Addressing the parliament on Thursday, PM Abiy Ahmed advised the two regions to consult and resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner.
Authorities in Tigray have been asking the federal government to enforce the withdrawal of the Amhara forces from the Tigray regional state territories on the account of the Pretoria peace deal which states for disputed areas to be resolved constitutionally.
Rights groups have been accusing security forces and the local administration assigned by the Amhara region particularly in Western Tigray of committing ethnic cleansing against Tigrayans. AS